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Pride then was not, nor arts that pride to aid;
Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade;
The same his table, and the same his bed;
No murder cloth'd him, and no murder fed :
In the same temple, the resounding wood,
All vocal beings hymn'd their equal God:
The shrine with gore unstain'd, with gold undressid,
Unbrib'd, unbloody, stood the blameless priest :
Heaven's attribute was universal care,
And man's prerogative to rule, but spare.
Ah! how unlike the man of times to come!
Of half that live, the butcher and the tomb;
Who, foe to nature, hears the general groan,
Murders their species, and betrays his own.
But just disease to luxury succeeds,
And every death its own avenger breeds;
The fury passions from that blood began,
And turn'd on man a fiercer savage, man.
See him from nature rising slow to art!
To copy instinct then was reason's part:
Thus then to man the voice of nature spake-
• Go, from the creatures thy instructions take;
Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield;
Learn from the beasts the physic of the field;
Thy arts of building from the bee receive;
Learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave;
Learn of the little nautilus to sail,
Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
Here too all forms of social union find,
And hence let reason, Jate, instruct mankind :
Here subterranean works and cities see;
There towns aërial on the waving tree.
Learn each small people's genins, policies,
The ants' republic, and the realm of bees ;
How those in common all their wealth bestow,
And anarchy without confusion know; .
And these for ever, though a monarch reign,
Their separate cells and properties maintain.
Mark what unvaried laws preserve each state,
Laws wise as nature, and as fix'd as fate.
In vain thy reason finer webs shall draw,
Entangle justice in her net of law,
And right, too rigid, harden into wrong,
Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong:
Yet go! and thus o'er all the creatures sway,
Thus let the wiser make the rest obey;
And for those arts mere instinct could afford,
Be crown'd as monarchs, or as gods ador’d.'
5. Great Nature spoke; observant man obey'd;
Cities were built, societies were made :
Here rose one little state; another near
Grew by like means, and join'd through love or fear:
Did here the trees with ruddier burdens bend,
And there the streams in porer rills descend?
What war could ravish, commerce could bestow,
And he return'd a friend who came a foe.
Converse and love mankind might strongly draw,
When love was liberty, and nature law.
Thus states were form'd, the name of king unknown;
Till common interest plac'd the sway in one.
'Twas virtue only (or in arts or arms,
Diffusing blessings, or averting harms)
The same which in a sire the sons obey'd,
A prince the father of a people made.
6. Till then, by Nature crown'd, each patriarch sate King, priest, and parent of his growing state; On him, their second Providence, they hung, Their law his eye, their oracle bis tongue,
He from the wondering furrow call'd tlie food, ..
Taught to command the fire, control the food;
Draw forth the monsters of the abyss profound;
Or fetch the' aërial eagle to the ground;
Till drooping, sickening, dying, they began
Whom they rever'd as God to mourn as man:
Then, looking up from sire to sire, explor'd
One great first father, and that first ador'd :
Or plain tradition that this all begun,
Corvey'd unbroken faith from sire to sop;
The worker from the work distinct was known,
And simple reason never sought but one.
Ere wit oblique had broke that steady light,
Man, like his Maker, saw that all was right;
To virtue in the paths of pleasure trod,
And owu'd a father when he own'd a God.
Love all the faith, and all the allegiance then,
For nature knew no right divine in men;
No ill could fear in God, and understood
A sovereign being but a sovereign good.
True faith, true policy, united ran ;
That was but love of God, and this of man.
Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms undone,
The' enormous faith of many made for one;
That proud exception to all Nature's laws,
To' invert the world, and counterwork its cause?
Force first made conquest, and that conquest law;
Till superstition taught the tyrant awe,
Then shar'd the tyranny, then lent it aid,
And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects, made:
She, midst the lightning's blaze and thunder's sound,
When rock'd the mountains, and when groau'd the
ground, She taught the weak to bend, the prond to pray, To power unseen, and mightier far than they;
She, from the rending earth and bursting skies,
Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise ;
Here fix'd the dreadful, there the bless'd abodes;
Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods ;
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust:
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
And, forni'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe.
Zeal then, pot charity, became the guide,
And hell was built on spite, and heaven on pride:
Then sacred seem'd the ethereal vault no more;
Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore :
Then first the flamen tasted living food,
Next his grim idol smeard with human blood;
With heaven's own thunders shook the world below,
And play'd the god an engine on his foe.
So drives self-love through just and through unjust,
To one man's power, ambition, lucre, lust:
The same self-love in all becomes the cause
Of what restrains him, government and laws.
For, what one likes if others like as well,
What serves one will, when many wills rebel?
How shall he keep what, sleeping or awake,
A weaker may surprise, a stronger take?
His safety must his liberty restrain :
All join to guard what each desires to gain.
Forc'd into virtue thus by self-defence,
Ev'n kings learn'd justice and benevolence :
Self-love forsook the path it first pursued,
And found the private in the public good.
'Twas then the studions head, or generous mind, Follower of God, or friend of human-kind, Poet or patriot, rose but to restore The faith and moral Nature gave before;
Relum'd her ancient light, not kindled new;
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew;
Taught power's due use to people and to kings,
Taught nor to slack nor strain its tender strings,
The less or greater set so justly true,
That touching one must strike the other too,
Till jarring interests of themselves create
The according music of a well-mix'd state.
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs
From order, union, full consent of things; [made
Where small and great, where weak and mighty,
To serve, not suffer; strengthen, not invade;
More powerful each as needful to the rest,
And, in proportion as it blesses, blest;
Draw to one point, and to one centre bring
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord, or king.
For forms of government let fools contest :
Whate'er is best administer'd is best:
For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right.
In faith and hope the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is charity:
All must be false that thwart this one great end;
And all of God that bless mankind or mend.
Man, like the generous vine, supported lives;
The strength he gains is from the' embrace he gives.
On their own axis as the planets run,
Yet make at once their circle round the sun;
So two consistent motions act the soul,
And one regards itself, and one the whole.
Thus God and nature link'd the general frame, And bade self-love and social be the same.